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Messages - HyveMynd

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Dungeon World / Fronts, needed for a one shot dungeon crawl?
« on: December 24, 2012, 10:37:21 PM »
Over the coming weeks I'll be running some Dungeon World games for people over Skype. Many of them are first timers to DW and AW-based games, but all are role players. I'm mining old Dungeons & Dragons 1st and 2nd edition adventure modules for maps and ideas, and am wondering:

Do I even need to make  Fronts for these games?

I mean, I probably will make one just because Fronts are a GM note organizing tool and I like to (at least attempt to) be organized. But as these are one shot games, I plan to have the players make their characters as a group, then give a little "boxed text" introduction of why they're outside this particular dungeon and what they"re looking for, then shove them through the door. There won't really be any follow up after the sessions finish. What I mean is, the world will change based on the actions of the characters, but as we probably won't be going back to that world again the players will never see those changes. So it's sort of a moot point to record them, except as "lonely fun" for me as GM.

So how do you guys and girls run first sessions? With a Front or without, and why?

Dungeon World / Re: Please critique my move
« on: December 24, 2012, 12:05:23 AM »
I think both versions of the move work; the "choose two on a 7-9" and the "choose one, but a gurgling grue approaches you". It's just a matter of personal taste about the wording.

The options "You discover an unlit torch in a little-used pocket or pouch." and "While groping in the dark, you discover something interesting." do mesh a little unevenly. It's sort of assumed the character will light the torch as soon as they discover it, meaning there won't be any darkness to grope around in for the second option. But there's no reason the options have to happen in the order they're presented. The GM could narrate things so that the blundering happens before the torch is found. You could just change the wording to "After a few minutes, you discover an unlit torch in a little-used pocket or pouch." indicating that some time has passed.

Dungeon World / Re: Please critique my move
« on: December 18, 2012, 08:09:05 PM »
When you find yourself in total darkness, roll + WIS. On a 10+, choose 2. On a 7-9, choose 1.
  • You recall, to your delight, that you stuffed a torch into a little-used pocket or pouch, and light it.
  • As you grope around in the dark, you discover a hidden feature or object.
  • You are not eaten by a grue.
As written it's hilarious, and captures the essence of Zork in a single Move. It's great. However I wouldn't use it for an actual Dungeon World game for the same reasons the posters above me have listed.

If you really want to make a custom Move for the dungeon that evokes a Zork game, I would change the last option to something like this:
When you find yourself in total darkness, roll + WIS. On a 10+, choose 2. On a 7-9, choose 1.
  • You recall, to your delight, that you stuffed a torch into a little-used pocket or pouch.
  • As you grope around in the dark, you discover a hidden feature or object.
  • You are not spotted by a grue.
This way, not choosing "You are not spotted by a grue." doesn't mean instant death for the character. I mean yes, that's what would happen in a Zork game, but it goes against the "Always ask 'What do you do?'" principle of Dungeon World. Getting eaten by a grue is a fine (if exceedingly harsh) hard move, but 7-9 should fundamentally be a success.

Monsterhearts / Re: So what does a 7-9 on Turning On mean?
« on: December 16, 2012, 10:51:25 PM »
That's up for the player to decide, whether the character in question is a PC or an NPC. The book is very careful to make that pretty clear:
Regardless of the results of the roll, however, each player still gets to decide how their character reacts. Being turned on by someone doesn't imply or demand a particular reaction.
That's why the player controlling the character affected by the Turn Someone On Move gets to choose which of the three options happens on a 7-9 result; the mechanics never force a particular reaction. You're never forced to give in to someone's sexual advances, it's something you choose to do.

So, let's say Mara's character uses the Turn Someone On Move on Catherine's character and get's a 7-9. If Catherine's player chooses the "give themselves to you" option, it's up to them to decide what that means for their character. It'll also be based on what Mara actually did in the fiction. Like if the two of them were sitting in class and Mara's player narrated a hair flip, a button adjustment that exposed just a bit too much skin, and then a hungry lingering stare, I doubt Catherine's player would have her tackle Mara and start a make out session right there on the classroom floor. Then again, the player might decide that's exactly what Catherine would do. Maybe Catherine just passes Mara a note with a hastily scrawled "any time, anywhere" on it. She's giving herself to Mara, just at a later time.

Monsterhearts / Re: The Mortal's Lover
« on: December 13, 2012, 12:16:31 AM »
Thanks for the responses, guys.

I think you might right about the word being italicized to indicate that the rules and Moves are referring to the one, specific lover the Mortal always has. As CoveredInFish points out, the Mortal could have several lovers but only one lover.

I can still see the term being a Condition though. As any character can take advantage of a Condition on another character (not just the character who initially placed it there), if the relationship between the Mortal's and their lover is common knowledge to everyone I could see someone taking advantage of that. Bad mouthing the lover or using them as a threat or leverage to get that +1 when making a Move against the Mortal. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer verbally attacking Angel was a good way to get under Buffy's skin. The same goes for badmouthing Bill in True Blood; it'd cause a strong reaction from Sookie. So I could se it being used the way other Conditions are. Plus, as Conditions only go away when the character takes appropriate action, breaking up with the Mortal seems like it would clear the lover Condition.

Of course that causes messiness when interacting with some of the other Moves. The Chosen's Sex Move allows them to clear all their Conditions. How would that work fictionally if the Chosen was the Mortal's lover? The same goes for the Ghoul's Satiety Move; they can choose to remove a Condition if they satisfy a Hunger. Hmm...

Monsterhearts / The Mortal's Lover
« on: December 11, 2012, 10:32:23 PM »
So I'm going through the Skins again as we might be playing Monsterhearts again soon, with me finally getting to be a player. Yes.

I'm leaning towards the Mortal, and noticed their True Love, Mess With Me, Mess With Him, and Excuses Are My Armor Moves as well as their Backstory has the word "lover" in italics. "You always have exactly one lover.", "You always carry 1 forward to earning your lover's heart or fancy." for example. Does that mean "lover" is a Condition? I'm pretty sure that Conditions and Moves are always presented in italics throughout the Monsterhearts book leading me to believe I'm right, but I could be dead wrong.

Can someone help me out on this?

Dungeon World / Re: First Trip to the Dungeon (World)
« on: December 11, 2012, 09:05:45 PM »
The player and I have been politely debating the mechanics via email since the session last week. I'll try to summarize his points while not bashing on him, as he's not here to defend his side of the argument.

He really likes the "total success/success with complications/failure" mechanics of AW-Powered games overall, but thinks they were implemented poorly for the Cast A Spell Move. The player contends that the three options presented on the 7-9 list are boring, especially when compared to the options other Moves present. He feels that "drawing unwelcome attention" will always mean "more monsters show up". Taking a -1 to all future Cast A Spell Moves is also unsatisfying to him, as he feels that's incredibly boring. Losing the spell until the next time the Cleric or Wizard can prepare spells is too harsh for his tastes, as he says the classes don't have a "back up". Though I'm not sure what he means by that. He'd like to see something where the spell goes awry, kind of like the areas of Wild Magic in the old Forgotten Realms campaign setting.

My point is that the AW-Powered games give the GM loose guidelines of what happens, not specifics, and that "attract unwanted attention" and "putting yourself in a spot" can be interpreted very broadly. If it makes sense for more baddies to show up based on the situation, that's what will happen. Let's face it, that's the easiest thing for the GM to come up with when on the spot, and perhaps I overused it during our session. But there are other things that qualify for unwanted attention. Maybe some extra-planar entity takes notice of the spell caster and starts sending him visions. Maybe the spell does go awry and has some adverse effect the character has to deal with. So while the player sees the Move as being less interesting than other Moves, I see it as almost identical to the others; relying on player creativity to really shine.

His biggest sticking point was with the information gathering Move though, Discern Realities. He really hated being constrained to the six questions the Move offered and just wanted to ask whatever he wanted. He also thinks that the Move yanks you out of the fiction more than the information gathering mechanics of other traditional games. To use his example, the party searched for secret doors during the session, but none of the questions directly ask about a secret door. He realizes the question to pick is "What here is not as it appears to be?" but doesn't seem to like that one.

He says that a traditional game goes like this:
1) Player wants to check for secret doors. 2) Player rolls dice. 3) GM tells the player what the PC finds based on the result.

And that DW and AW both go like this:
1) Player wants to check for secret doors. 2) Player rolls dice. 3) Player determines how many questions he gets to ask, and chooses which ones. 4) Player asks first question and GM answers. 5) Repeat for other questions allowed.

He doesn't like how the player has to ask the questions to the GM rather than doing it in the fiction.

Again, he's not totally wrong. My argument is that the player knows what they are looking for before rolling the dice. They know what question they want to ask before making the Move, and therefore shouldn't have to pour through the list trying to decide what they want to ask. The list also never changes. It's always the same six questions, which the players are always aware of. If you only get to ask one question, you should ask the one you had in mind. If you get to ask three, the other two are just a bonus. Plus, if none of the questions on the list will give you the information you want to know, then you don't need to make a Discern Realities Move. Just ask the GM and they'll tell you the information.

While other games have different skills (Bluff, Insight, Nature, Track, Empathy, Investigation, etc.) to cover different situations, DW just has the one Move to cover everything. So the questions have to be broad enough to apply to just about everything the players could "closely examine". Personally, I think the player is just being a bit too narrow in his approach. One of the principles of AW-Powered games is that the GM has to be completely honest at all times. If the characters would notice something about a situation, then they do. So long as it's not hidden. Anyone would be able to see the tracks on the muddy ground, or that the king is fidgeting on his seat, or that the path leads into a low cave.

Asking questions from the Discern Realities Move gives you information that your character normally wouldn't have access to. Asking "What happened here recently?" about the tracks you found will reveal what made them, how many there were, and what they were doing to make those tracks. Asking "What is about to happen?" or "Who's really in control here?" would reveal how the king will most likely react to your news of his son's death, or that it's really the queen who makes all the decisions and is using her husband as a puppet. Asking "What should I be on the lookout for?" or "What is about to happen?" could reveal the presence of bandits lurking just past the cave's mouth, or that the cave actually goes nowhere and they players really should be watching the tree line just off the road.

So in my opinion, nothing is wrong with the moves.

Dungeon World / Re: You know what are some great moves?
« on: December 11, 2012, 02:22:09 AM »
Me, I love Defy Danger. Because you can couch so many things as dangers.

An example - a charming but penniless ranger in my game tried to get a room at an inn free by flirting with the portly widow that ran the place. I ruled that this was Defying Danger, the danger being that she would take offense at his attempted freeloading.
Couldn't the danger also have been the portly widow wanting more than the Ranger was willing to offer? You know, assuming the flattery was sincere and that he really was attracted to her. Then that'd lead to a Take Watch Move later that night, with the portly widow potentially "getting the drop" on the Ranger as he slept. Heh.

Dungeon World / Re: First Trip to the Dungeon (World)
« on: December 10, 2012, 09:10:35 PM »
Sadly, I don't think so. I had a blast running the game and I know Cadeus's player would play again, but I don't know about the other two. Galadiir's player isn't a gamer and just hangs out with Bjorn's player, so he doesn't really care about or comment on the games we put in front of him. Bjorn's player had some issues with the game, specifically about the how magic works and with the Discern Realities Move. He said he probably wouldn't play again, and as Galadiir's player only shows up if Bjorn's player is present, that means out of three people I could probably only get one of them to play again. Which sucks.

Dungeon World / Re: First Trip to the Dungeon (World)
« on: December 10, 2012, 07:21:58 PM »
Continuing from where we left off last time…

Our intrepid adventurers head down into the depths of the Snake Cult's lair after dispatching a few guards on the surface. Being excavated from the swampy ground of the Rushmoor swamp, the walls and ceiling of the tunnel are little more than mud held up with rotting timbers every five feet or so. The wooden steps are slick, caked with muck and slightly rotted, making descent treacherous. I had each character make a Defy Danger Move with Dexterity, the danger being them slipping and falling down the 60' long staircase. Both Bjorn (the Dwarf Fighter) leading the party and Galadiir (the Elf Wizard) bringing up the rear slipped on the mud, plunging headlong down the steps. (Both players got a miss on their Defy Danger Moves.) Cadeus (the Elf Fighter) in the middle maintained his footing, but was hit in the back by the falling Galadiir. He could either catch Galadiir and have both of them tumble a short way down the steps, or leap out of the way allowing the Wizard to tumble all the way to the bottom. (The player got a weak hit on his Defy Danger, meaning I had to give him an ugly bargain. In this case it was take no damage but ignore Galadiir or take some damage as he helped his friend.) Again being the hero that he was, Cadeus grabbed Galadiir, taking some of the damage the clumsy Wizard would have otherwise taken. At the bottom of the steps, Bjorn spit mud from his mouth and checked the bruises the rapid descent of the steps had just given him. (Falling down the steps was d6 damage, ignoring armor. But I didn't roll that high, luckily for the player.)

Once the party regrouped, they examined their surroundings thanks to Bjorn's magically glowing stone. They were in the center of a roughly square, 30' by 30' room with an opening in the center of each wall and the staircase behind them. To the left, the corridor took a sharp turn, but had a faint ambient glow from somewhere further on. Directly ahead was a long corridor that opened into what appeared to be a large room with a few pillars and a pool of water. To the right, another long hallway that ended in a wooden door. Not liking the looks of the slightly lit hallway, they headed right to the wooden door. Galadiir lead the way with Bjorn right behind him and Cadeus standing farther back to protect the rear on lookout. The Ef Wizard pressed his ear to the door and listened for signs of occupation. All he could discern through the slightly rotted wood was the sound of gently lapping water, as if from a large but gentle body of water. (The player made a Discern Realities Move and got a miss. Not really knowing what GM Move to make, I decided to "bank" my response, saving a hard move for a later time. Describing the lapping water was what just what honestly demanded.) Fearing a trap, Bjorn and Galadiir pushed on the door with the Wizard's staff attempting to open it from afar. The door refused to budge. It took Cadeus walking over to the door and pointing out the pull ring on the door before the other two realized their mistake. (I had described the door with a pull ring when the players first looked at the door, they just didn't put 2 and 2 together until Cadeus' player said "Hey, dummies. It's a PULL ring!") Upon opening the door, the group was met with a vast expanse of brown, muddy water in a roughly circular 60' diameter room. In the center of the left wall they could just make out the dim shape of another passageway.

"Fuck that!" said Bjorn emphatically as he turned to head back down the hallway, followed closely by his companions. As they turned, there was a splash, a wet gurgling sound, and a whistle as is something was flying through the air at a very high speed. (I used my banked hard move to ambush the players with the Otyugh who lived in the lake. I had planned to have the monster remain quiet if and until they disturbed it, but them turning their backs on the doorway was a golden opportunity.) Unfortunately, Bjorn's player and I had a bit of a misunderstanding. He thought he'd said the party closed the door before turning around, while I had assumed they left the door open. So I had the player make a Defy Danger Move with either Strength or Dexterity to get the door shut in time. He got a weak hit, and had to choose between slamming the door shut causing a lot of noise, or having a few tentacles slip through the door before he got it shut. With a mighty heave, Bjorn slammed the door shut with a loud crack, which was quickly followed by several muffled, wet slaps and scratching sounds from the other side.

Retreating from whatever was in that underground pool, the party headed towards the passageway with a bit of light leaking from around the corner. (The players didn't know it,  but they were headed into the part of the dungeon that housed the low ranking human cultists. The slamming door and loud descent Bjorn made upon first entering the dungeon had alerted everyone to the party's presence. Otherwise I would have required another Defy Danger Move, with the danger being not moving quietly enough and the cultists being ready for them. But the cultists were already prepared.) Galadiir and Bjorn quickly glanced around one of the turnings the passage took and saw a hallway ending in a T-junction with several doors on either side, and a group of cultists waiting for them. The cultists fell quickly to the combined onslaught of Bjorn's hammer, Cadeus' sword, and Galadiir's offensive magic, though the heroes did not escape the encounter entirely unscathed. After catching their breathes, they decided to check some of the doors in the hallway. Galadiir again pushed gingerly on a door with his staff, while Bjorn roared "That's not 'ow ya dooit, laddie!" and proceeded to the door in front of him a stout kick. Unfortunately the rotted wood gave way, and the dwarf's leg disappeared through the door up to his hip. (This was an on the fly custom Move I made up. All the doors in the dungeon were stuck closed due to the moist conditions, and I had the player roll+ STR to see if he got the door open. The player rolled double ones, resulting in the mishap.) At the same time, Galadiir listened at his door, heard what appeared to be female voices and realized something would be coming through within the next few seconds. (The player made a Discern Realities Move, got a weak hit, and asked his one question of "What is about to happen?") Taking up position just next to the door, Galadiir gripped his staff in both hands and prepared to smash the first thing that emerged.

The door opened, something moved, Galadiir swung and connected with a loud, wet crunch. Blood and brains sprayed the wall as a cultist dropped, her head reduced to a mass of red jelly. (Galadiir's player got a strong hit on his Hack and Slash Move, resulting in 4 points of damage. Again, cultists have 3 HP and 0 Armor. Head shot. Dead.) Cadeus, further down the tunnel than Bjorn or Galadiir, was again forced to rush forward, ignoring the roaring dwarf stuck halfway in the door. Galadiir swung again as another cultist emerged, this time hearing a wet thwack as his staff buried itself in the soft mud of the tunnel where it stuck fast. (The player got a miss on his Hack and Slash move, and I decided to Take away his stuff as my hard move.) Three female cultists emerged from the room, hoping to use their numbers to overwhelm on of the adventurers. Bjorn finally freed himself from the door while Cadeus slew another cultist, but not before feeling her dagger grate across his armor. (Again, Cadeus' player got a weak hit on his Hack and Slash move meaning he suffered damage, but I didn't roll high enough to get past his armor.) Of the two surviving cultists, one was slowly backing fearfully down the corridor (the way the party had originally come) while the other brandished her dagger and glared. Bjorn stepped forward, pointing his hammer at them. "Tell us who ya werk fer, and we'll leyagoo." he declared. The player got a weak hit on his Parley Move, meaning that the NPCs would want some concrete assurance of the promise right now. "Drop your weapons and we'll tell you." the woman at the back answered hesitantly. "I canna do tha." replied Bjorn "But I swear by tha Beard of Norris, no 'arm will com to you."

"Norris?" the other cultist spat. "His beard is thin and scrawny, like the beard of an old grandmother." With a roar of contempt, the insulted Cleric smashed the cultist into the wall with his hammer, silencing her forever. (A strong hit on his Hack and Slash Move with an ungodly amount of damage.) Terrified, the last surviving cultist fled back into the dungeon. "Le 'er go." Bjorn said. "We should check these rooms, first". The rooms were merely small 20' by 20' living cells with only moldy straw mattresses, though Galadiir did find a small snake's head pendant underneath the piles of dirty bedding. (The player made a Discern Realities Move, got a weak hit and asked "What here is valuable to me?") The group pushed on to explore the T-junction at the end of the hall, turning left into the squalid kitchen. Nothing was of interest, though Bjorn took a bottle of wine for later. The heroes then examined a rather curious passage leading off of the kitchen that appeared to go nowhere and simply dead ended after 40' or so. Galadiir started to walk down the tunnel, completely oblivious to the pulsing mass of greenish gunk clinging to the ceiling. (The player got a miss on his Discern Realities roll, meaning something bad needed to happen. Bingo! The old "Green Slime on the Ceiling" trick, a staple of the Gygaxian Era dungeon.) Bjorn noticed something wrong with the ceiling but didn't realize what he was looking at until it was too late. (His player got one question from the Discern Realities Move and asked "What here is not what it appears to be?" My response was that the ceiling looked "wrong".) Cadeus instantly realized the danger Galadiir had walked into and called out a warning. (His player got three questions from the Discern Realities Move and asked "What should I be on the lookout for?" and "What is about to happen?" I told him that he should be on the lookout for the Green Slime that was about to engulf Galadiir. A cheap answer I know, but when all three players ask about the same situation, there's only so much new information you can give them.)

Galadiir flung himself forward just as the slime dropped from the ceiling with a loud splat. Unfortunately, the acidic green goo was now between the Wizard and his companions. (The player got a weak hit on his Defy Danger Move, and his choice was throw himself backwards towards his friends but take damage from the slime, or completely avoid the slime but be trapped in the dead end. He chose the latter.) Bjorn recalled that fire would deal with the slime in short order, while the rattled Galadiir could only remember that slimes were asexual molds that reproduced by budding. (Bjorn's player got a strong hit on a Spout Lore Move, meaning I had to give him useful information about the situation. Galadiir's player got a weak hit on the same Move, meaning all I had to provide was "interesting" information. It was on him to make it useful.) Bjorn grabbed the bottle of wine he'd stolen from the kitchen and prepared to heave it at a support pillar, hopefully dousing the slime in alcohol. I told him this would be difficult, as the slime had sent out pseudo-pods in search of prey. They came dangerously close to the Cleric causing him to drop the bottle, which thankfully didn't break. (The player got a weak hit on a Defy Danger Move, and his tough choice was drop the bottle or hold onto it but take damage.) Meanwhile Galadiir backed himself as far as he could into the corner and prepared to Cast a Spell. I told him the same thing, that it was incredibly dangerous with tendrils of green slime actively seeking for him, and asked for a Defy Danger Move. Alas poor Galadiir couldn't get away from the slime fast enough, and felt the ooze engulf his outstretched arm. The Wizard spiraled down into darkness and heard the Black Gates of Death’s Kingdom begin to creak open to allow him passage. (The player totally Storked his Defy Danger roll, and I had the slime do damage as my hard move. I got the maximum result; a full 10 points of damage, which dropped the Elf to 0 HP as he wasn’t wearing any armor.)

Cadeus, who had been furthest back and avoided the tendrils of slime, rushed forward to grab the bottle from the floor and heave it against a support pillar. The bottle broke, showering the slime with alcohol, while Bjorn put tinder to flint, ending its existence with a whoosh and a hungry crackle of flame. (Cadeus' player nailed his Volley Move, chucking the bottle right where he wanted it. As a strong hit on a Volley Move would normally have done damage without any ill effects or hard choices, I just said that Bjorn's sparks would catch and kill the slime outright.) Meanwhile Galadiir stepped forward towards the Gates of Death but paused, remembering his mortal life and his unfinished business with the Snake Cult. With a shuddering gasp, he forced breath back into his body and returned to life. (The player got lucky and rolled a natural 12 on his Last Breath Move, to which everyone at the table exclaimed “Holy shit!” When you get a strong hit in the Last Breath Move, the character essentially flips Death the bird and doesn’t die, but is left at 0 HP and unconscious.) With the Green Slime now just a sizzling puddle on the ground, Cadeus and Bjorn were able to reach Galadiir, force the Cleric’s healing potion down his throat and bandage up his arm. Thanks to the potion, the Wizard was almost back to normal, though the slime had left one of his arms covered with some rather nasty looking acid burns. (The character now has the Scarred Debility, giving him a -1 to all Charisma rolls until the scars heal.) Burned and bruised, but as of yet unbeaten, the trio headed off further into the dungeon of the Snake Cult.

Unfortunately that’s where we ended the session as it was 10:30pm and people (me) needed to catch trains home. I don’t know if we’ll ever find out what happens to Bjorn, Galadiir, and Cadeus, since some of the players enjoyed the session overall but had some problems with the Dungeon World mechanics and rules. Hopefully I can convince them to at least finish exploring the dungeon. ;)

Dungeon World / First Trip to the Dungeon (World)
« on: December 09, 2012, 09:39:17 PM »
This is going to be a long post, as it's a combination of an actual play report and my thoughts on running the game for the first time.

So I finally ran a session of Dungeon World last Thursday night. I've MCed a few sessions of both Apocalypse World and Monsterhearts, but I've been itching to run DW for a while now. Both because it's one the easier AW-Powered games to get people to try (no Sex Moves, no over sexual overtones, and a well know setting/premise), and because I've wanted to stack it up against other fantasy RPGs (namely D&D Next).

Unlike other AW-Powered games, Dungeon World requires the GM to show up with an adventure (or at least the skeleton of one) all ready to go, much like a "traditional" game. So the night before our session I grabbed an old school D&D module, read through it, printed out its map, stocked the dungeon with some appropriate monsters and enemies from the DW book, and then made an Adventure Front with a few Dangers.

In the session I ran I created a single Front, The Cult of the Reptile God, which was composed of two Dangers, the Cult lead by an evil priest and the Reptile God. The human cultists were an Ambitious Organization: Cult (duh), while the Reptile God was a Planar Force: God (even though the entity wasn't actually a god, but a naga posing as one). So, with my Fronts, Dangers, map, and monsters ready, I was prepared to toss the characters into the thick of things.

I started the 3 PCs (the Dwarf Cleric Bjorn, the Elf FIghter Cadeus, and the Elf Wizard Galadiir) hot on the train of the evil Snake Cult who had kidnapped several townspeople from the village they'd been passing through. They'd already investigated and ransacked the local temple, killing the priest who turned out to be part of the evil Snake Cult, too! (That adventure didn’t actually happen, but it added some context and a motivation to a situation the PCs would otherwise have no reason to get involved with.) I asked each of the characters a question about the Snake Cult to establish some fiction. I asked Bjorn "What did you learn about the Snake Cult from ransacking that corrupted temple?" He replied, "They have giant snakes! As big as your leg, laddie!" Pretty much a given, but it made sense. (This particular player always uses a bad Scottish accent for his Dwarves.) I asked Cadeus "Why did you swear revenge on the Snake Cult?" and got "They killed my sister." as a response. I asked Galadiir "What arcane knowledge did you learn about the Snake Cult?" and didn't get an answer. As the guy playing Galadiir the Wizard is only a casual gamer at best and the least familiar with RPGs in general, I told him he could hold his answer until he thought of something. Looking back, I wish I had come up with better questions (ones that front loaded more information) or followed up with more questions to get more details.

I explained that the journey through the stinking, fetid mire of the Rushmoor swamp following the trail of the Snake Cult would take two days. I told the players to make the Undertake A Perilous Journey Move. This required a lot of out of character explaining, as they needed to know what the three "jobs" of the Move were. They finally decided Galadiir would take the role of quartermaster, Bjorn would be trailblazer, and Cadeus would be the scout. This is one of the Moves that is kind of hard to "wrap in fiction", especially in the beginning. Once the players know they are going to travel through hostile territory and understand what the three roles of the Move are, I imagine it'll flow a bit better. All three rolled weak hits and the journey took the predicted amount of time, used up the predicted amount of supplies, and nothing got the drop on them as they travelled. An uneventful, but wet, stinky, and miserable two days to the lair of the Snake Cult.

The adventurers found the entrance to the underground complex with no problem as the cultist weren't expecting to be followed and hadn't bothered to cover their tracks. They gathered just outside a rough tunnel with a slimy wooden staircase leading down into the soggy earth and discussed what to do. Bjorn, seeing the darkness they were about to descend into, found a rock and Cast A Spell to make it glow. The player rolled a weak hit and chose to attract unwanted attention. I was kind of stumped about what kind of attention he had attracted for a bit. Looking back, I could've had some sort of nasty swamp denizen spot the party and set up an ambush or start to threaten them somehow. I thought that was a bit cheap though, and so decided the party had made enough noise preparing themselves that they had alerted the cultists at the bottom of the stairs to their presence. I told Cadeus, who was closest to the entrance, that he heard faint voices and the clink of metal coming up the steps of the tunnel. This was me making the Show signs of an approaching threat GM Move.

Cadeus relayed this information to his companions and then took up an ambush position on the opposite side of the tunnel entrance. Bjorn unslung his shield and stood in front of Galadiir , who was busy preparing an offensive spell. The only Move that was triggered was by Cadeus, who I had make a Defy Danger Move with either Dexterity or Intelligence, his choice. In this situation, the danger Cadeus was defying was being immediately spotted as the cultists came out of the tunnel. He nailed the Move with a strong hit and was essentially invisible. After taking up their positions, all three of the players looked at me expectantly.

Realizing it was my turn in the conversation, I described a group of four cultists with scavenged, rusty weapons and black robes emerging from the tunnel entrance. Bjorn and Galariir had made no attempt to conceal themselves and were immediately spotted. The cultists rushed forward, eager to capture more prisoners for their god. Having taken my “turn” in the conversation, I asked the players what they did. Cadeus lept forward, sword in hand, and struck a cultist dead in a single blow. No dice roll or Move required. In this case, the cultists had absolutely no idea Cadeus was behind them and were not expecting the attack. Result? Instant death.

Bjorn roared “Norris!” and raised his hammer to crack the skull of an approaching cultist. The Cleric swung, but the cultist flowed sinuously out of the way causing Bjorn to strike the swampy ground, spattering fetid water everywhere. Blinded by the muck his hammer threw up, he felt the cultist’s dagger scrape across his shield. (The player got a miss on his Hack and Slash Move. I Put him in a Spot as my GM Move. I also rolled damage for the cultist, but rolled less than the amount of armor the character was wearing.) Galadiir stepped forward and sent a searing lance of white light through another cultist’s heart, leaving him a half charred corpse slowly sinking into the muck of the Rushmoor swamp. (The player rolled a strong hit on his Cast a Spell Move, throwing out a Magic Missile for 2d4 damage. Cultists have 3 HP and 0 Armor.) That left two cultists alive and headed for the blinded dwarf. Seeing that Bjorn and Galadiir were in danger, Cadeus ran to their aid. I told the player that would be a Defy Danger Move using Dexterity. The danger in this case was not being able to reach his comrades in time. The player rolled and got a weak hit, meaning I had to give him a worse outcome, a hard bargain, or an ugly choice. Cadeus rushed forward but stumbled because of the thick muck of the swamp, sending his sword spinning from his grasp. He could either reach Bjorn in time but engage the cultist weaponless, or check his advance to retrieve his sword. Like the heroic fighter he was, Cadeus continued forward to grapple the cultist. This flowed into a Hack and Slash Move, which resulted in another weak hit. Cadeus connected with a solid hit with his mailed fist, but the cultist was able to bring his sword to bear, dealing a superficial wound to the Fighter.

Meanwhile, Bjorn attempted to shake the slime from his eyes while both avoiding the cultists and protecting Galadiir. He needed to Defy Danger, the danger in this case being the cultist who would easily take advantage of the situation. The player convinced me that he could use Wisdom to Defy Danger, as that is the perception related stat. I agreed, and the player got a weak hit. Time for another worse outcome, hard bargain, or ugly choice from me. I told Bjorn that he could wipe the slime from his eyes but find himself a few steps from where he was, thereby exposing Galadiir to danger. Or he could remain blinded and just raise his shield in the correct direction, hoping for the best. He chose the latter. It didn’t really matter that much, as Galadiir let fly with another Magic Missile from his Cast A Spell Move and dropped the cultist with another smoking crater in his chest. Cadeus continued to grapple the cultist, suffering more damage from the foe’s scavenged sword (another Hack and Slash Move with a weak hit result). Feeling something slump near his feet, Bjorn finally cleared his vision and saw Cadeus locked in melee combat with the last cultist. Shouting “Norris!” again, he charged forward, grabbed the foe’s head, and snapped his neck with a sharp twist. This didn’t even require a Move, as once again, the last cultist was completely unaware of the attack and certainly wasn’t expecting one, as he was preoccupied with Cadeus. No chance of exposing yourself to danger or damage means no Hack and Slash Move; you just do it.

Dungeon World / Re: PDF For Sale
« on: November 18, 2012, 10:53:10 PM »
Once we have our hot little hands on some extra copies, we'll put them in the hands of a trusted retailer.  From there, you'll be able to order them to your hearts' content.  Expect probably January?
Awesome. I know it's still a bit early to ask, but do you have any idea how much a softcover Dungeon World book would cost? I'd love to get one, but unfortunately missed the Kickstarter. :(

Hey noclue. Thanks for listening, and for the response and the comments on the episode. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you.

I think that the problem we encountered was twofold. Firstly, it was the first time I'd run the game, and I was essentially doing it blind. Meaning that I hadn't played in an AW game before and didn't really know what to do. I mean, I knew what to do from reading the book cover to cover several times, but book knowledge is very different from practical knowledge. I said this on the episode, but I think that AW is a game that you can only run (or at least run well) after having it run for you.

Secondly, and not to throw my players under the bus here, but no one else had read the book or knew anything about the AW system or how narrative it is. I suspect that they were suspecting a more "traditional" game, one where the GM/MC sets up everything about the world for them. They seemed really taken aback with the questions during character creation and with the amount of creative input they had. My players are not railroaders (well, not all of them) and some of them are very proactive, but AW seems to crash and burn really hard when the PCs just kind of sit around doing nothing.

It's also my fault for not making it perfectly clear to them that the first session of every AW game is character and setting generation. I got the distinct feeling that at least one of the players kind of thought we were wasting time and not really "playing". That's totally understandable since I didn't articulate that beforehand, and also since we were only doing one-hour sessions over Skype. I can see how someone would be disappointed if their entire play session for the week was just the MC asking them questions.

I was asking lots of questions during the first session and Hx assignment, but it can be pretty damn hard to do that. It's kind of like a game of ping-pong; if either the players or the MC "drops the ball" by being unable to come up with something, then the whole process kind of looses momentum. This didn't get mentioned during the episode, but after that first session I got private emails from my players saying they needed more information about the setting. So I kind of broke the rules and set up most of the setting, including all the details such as who was in charge of the caravan, what they did for food, MC characters and friendships/rivalries, etc. for them. That fell absolutely flat.

I didn't want to railroad them and tried to dangle plot hooks in front of them, but no one bit on anything naturally, because none of the PCs were invested in anything that was going on. I tried to set things in motion by having one of the Hardholder's lieutenants cut up one of the Hocus's followers (the player decided that his followers were prostitutes, like temple whores). That went nowhere, as they just kind of said "don't do it again". I tried to split loyalties by having the Hardholder (an MC character) "request" that the Faceless join one of the raiding parties and "keep an eye on the Hocus" (the players decided that the Faceless was one of the Hocus's followers), and that went nowhere. I was actually getting a little bit pissed off at how buddy-buddy the PCs were being.

But ultimately, the game failed because of my MCing skills. I listened to The Walking Eye's actual play podcasts of AW after the fact and realized what I was doing wrong. I hadn't put the characters into situations that demanded a reaction from them. I had made the character's lives boring. I wasn't creating situations that required a "What do you do?" for the players to react to.

Hopefully I've learned from my mistakes for the Monsterhearts game I'm running now. Sadly though, I think I've wasted my one chance of running AW with this group.

Monsterhearts / Re: Ghoul's Hunger
« on: June 29, 2012, 09:30:04 AM »
Thanks for the reply mcdaldno. I don't think I'll have worry about my Ghoul player being proactive about feeding. Last night in the second session (when actual play started) his PC just hauled off and ate someone. She was just hanging around the McDonalds, waiting for her friend to get off the late shift, when she spotted the captain of the field hockey team. She sashayed over and after a few exchanges and Turn Someone On rolls, she convinced him to drive out to the local make out spot even though he was supposed to pick up his girlfriend later. Poor Logan will never be picking up anyone ever again, I'm afraid.

And of course, a few people would have noticed them leaving together...

Monsterhearts / Re: Super Hollow?
« on: June 26, 2012, 05:59:06 AM »
When I tried that on the Hollow, he a)marked experience from it and then b)copied my moves throughout the game so that he got the benefits of the blamed condition that I had put onto other people.

It sounds like the Hollow had Better Than Nothing and Mimicry.

Better Than Nothing does allow the Hollow player to simply mark XP whenever they gain a Condition. But having a Condition is generally a pretty negative thing, both mechanically and fictionally. Mechanically it means that other PCs should be taking advantage of that Condition to get +1's on their rolls against the Hollow and MC characters should be using that Condition to act at an Advantage. It also means that the Hollow will generally have to place themselves into dangerous or painful situations to get a Condition.

Looking at the Basic Moves, you can gain a Condition from the 10 up and 7-9 results of being Shut Down, from the 7-9 result of Holding Steady, or the 7-9 results of Gazing Into the Abyss. Being Shut Down means the Hollow would have to irritate another character or poke their nose into someone else's business to the point they piss that person off bad enough to cause that reaction. Having to Hold Steady means the Hollow would have to put themselves into a situation that would call for a such a roll. Those are almost universally going to be tense and/or dangerous situations, which the MC should capitalize on. So yes, the Hollow can just mark XP when they get a Condition, but earning that Condition is not really meant to be fun, easy, or safe. You also can't gain the same Condition more than once. So if you already have the Terrified Condition from Holding Steady you can't gain it again until you've cleared the first one off.

Mimicry only allows the Hollow to keep the "copied" Skin Move if they roll a 10 up with dark, and they also have to lose a move they already have on top of that. So if they were a "new" Hollow with only two Skin moves, they'd either have to lose Better Than Nothing or Mimicry to keep the Ghost's Unresolved Trauma move. If they lose Better Than Nothing they won't be able to mark XP when they gain a Condition, and if they lose Mimicry then they're stuck with that Ghost move for a long, long time.*

In this particular case though, I don't think that the Ghost's Unresolved Trauma move works unless the character with it has actually died. The move reads "When you project the blame and trauma of your death..." So if you haven't died, then I don't see how you can project the blame and trauma of that non-existent death onto someone to satisfy the requirement for that move. None of the Origin options for the Hollow really imply that they died; it's arguable if the Hollow is even alive really, and if you're not alive how can you die?

I guess I'm just echoing Alfred and mcdaldno here; the "brakes" for the Hollow are fictional rather than mechanical. Whatever Condition the Hollow accepts, the MC needs to make sure that all their characters treat them accordingly.

*By the way, I'm curious about something. When the Hollow replaces a move they have with the 10 up result of Mimicry, what happens to the replaced move? Does it get crossed off the Hollow's skin book (assuming it was a Hollow skin move to begin with), or does it get unmarked and left in the book? For example, what happens if I replace Mimicry with another move? Do I lose Mimicry forever, or can I chose to take it again with one of the "Take another Hollow Move" Advancements?

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